Be rational; be sensible

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Aliran is concerned about the arrests of leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) – P Uthayakumar, P Waythamoorthy and V Ganapathy Rao – ahead of a planned gathering on Sunday, 25 November at the British embassy. Many Malaysians are likely to view the police action as being politically motivated.

 The restraining order from a magistrate’s court obtained on a Friday is unprecedented and does not give the affected party time to challenge it or set it aside. It is obvious that these actions are aimed at blocking Sunday’s assembly.

It is also ironical that the people put in charge of law and order should be creating chaos and making the lives of Malaysians miserable. This is what the police are doing in KL and the surrounding districts with their road blocks and blockades.

Through their actions, many perceive the police as being partisan and playing a political role to protect the interests of the Barisan Nasional. They are bent on denying any opportunity that could reveal to Malaysians that the number of those with grievances is far larger than what we have been led to believe.

The police should have given the organisers the permit they had requested and then played a low-key role in helping to control traffic and maintain law and order.

The Big 10/11 demonstration, in spite of the mammoth crowd involved, was an example of an orderly, peaceful gathering that was carried out responsibly. After the petition was handed over to the palace, the organisers’ team even cleared the debris and made sure that the roads were free from any rubbish.

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This Sunday’s gathering is not a demonstration but a peaceful gathering in front of the British Embassy to hand in a petition addressed to the Queen bearing 100,000 signatures. The people who are proposing to assemble are not rabble-rousers. On the contrary, they appear to be marginalised people who have lost faith in the political process.

The BN government should respect the democratic rights to freedom of assembly and of expression. It must not suppress these rights through the use of oppressive, undemocratic and violent tactics.

Aliran Executive Committee

23 November 2007

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